Transplant promotion at Canada Day event

Double-lung recipient, world athlete encourages donors

A seasonal resident of 108 Mile Ranch will be at this year’s Canada Day celebrations at the 108 Heritage Site to promote organ donation.

A double-lung transplant recipient, Margaret Benson will be volunteering at a BC Transplant booth.

BC Transplant is the organization that registers all donors within British Columbia – where more than 500 people are currently awaiting transplants, she explains.

“Canada is one of the lowest registration populations in the world … and B.C. is one of the lowest provinces [of those with registration systems].”

Tragically, Benson notes if any of these people on the waiting list don’t receive donor organs in time, they will die.

This almost happened to her, she adds.

Benson explains she had a double-lung transplant in late 1999, at age 40, after suffering from cystic fibrosis for decades – since her diagnosis at age 14, when she was expected to survive just one more year.

After beating those odds for decades, Benson became so ill by 1998 that she was put on the transplant waiting list, she explains.

Noting she was very lucky and donor organs became available in time to save her life, Benson says she knows many others are not so fortunate, and now volunteers to promote the cause, including the past 11 years as a Canadian Transplant Association provincial director.

She is also an athlete and gold medalist who regularly competes as a racewalker and as a runner in both the Canadian and the World Transplant Games, which are held on alternating years.

“I hold the world record in my category of age 50-59, in the racewalk.”

She competed at the 2015 World games in Argentina (and is going next year to Spain), and this August, she’ll be at the Nationals in Toronto.

Benson says she wants to encourage folks at the Canada Day event to learn more about organ donation, and she hopes some will even register on the spot.

There are other ways beyond organ donation to help people suffering medical ailments, she notes.

Benson explains one person can save up to eight lives, plus help other people with tissue needs, such as bones for injured people, skin grafts for burn victims and corneas for the blind.

Stop for a chat with Benson at her booth at the Canada Day 2016 celebrations at the 108 Heritage Site, 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. on July 1.

She notes people can also register as donors online, or confirm if they are already registered, at www.transplant.bc.ca.